OUSTED Catalan president Carles Puigdemont has criticised the passivity of European politicians in denouncing Spain’s prosecution of dismissed pro-independence officials.

In an interview in Brussels, Puigdemont said there is an “absolute disconnect between the interests of the people and the European elites” and that Catalonia’s problem is an “issue of human rights that requires maximum attention”.

He is fighting extradition to Spain, where other members of his ousted cabinet have been sent to jail while awaiting the results of a probe for allegedly implementing a strategy to gain independence from Spain.

Spanish central authorities have taken direct control of Catalonia, where an early election on December 21 is shaping into a tight race between pro-independence and pro-union forces.

Puigdemont wanted to lead a pro-independence coalition of political forces in the elections, and the civil society group that spearheaded the Catalan push for independence from Spain has also called for Catalan political parties to run in a “unified pro-independence ticket”.

Assemblea Nacional Catalana said a coalition should include jailed activists and the members of the deposed Catalan cabinet as candidates.

The parties had until midnight to register an interest in forming coalitions, but a repetition of the ousted ruling centre-right PDeCAT and the left republican ERC that also appeals to the anti-establishment CUP party seemed unlikely.

PDeCAT wanted Puigdemont to lead a hypothetical coalition, while ERC said it would only agree if deposed and jailed vice-president Oriol Junqueras heads a ticket supported by the CUP and even far-left non- nationalists.

A recent poll by the Barcelona-based La Vanguardia newspaper predicted that the three pro- independence parties would win between 66 and 69 seats in December, while 68 are needed for a majority.

Pro-independence parties held a slim majority of 72 of 132 seats in the Catalan parliament before it was dissolved by Spanish authorities after legislators passed a declaration of independence on October 27.

The central government also removed Puigdemont’s cabinet and called for a snap election.

Judges are gauging possible rebellion charges against the former Catalan officials and legislators who made the vote possible. Eight former cabinet members including Junqueras have been jailed, one released on bail and five more, including Puigdemont, are in Belgium where they plan to campaign while fighting extradition to Spain.

Six legislators, including the Catalan parliament’s speaker Carme Forcadell, could also be sent to jail as soon as tomorrow after they give evidence to a Supreme Court judge on a similar probe.

They face possible charges of rebellion, sedition and embezzlement, which can be punished with up to 30 years in prison.

Catalan pro-independence parties are planning to include some of the officials in ballots as a way to draw more attention to a situation they consider unjust. Lawyers are also arguing that the officials should be spared jail before trial because running for a parliamentary seat means they have no intention of fleeing.